Fri, May 09, 2003 - Page 20 News List

La Spagnola

STAFF WRITER WITH THE GUARDIAN

PHOTO COURTESY SPOT

This movie, like Ana Kokkinos' ``Head On'' a few years ago, shows that cultural difference in modern Australia is not just a matter of the Anglos and the Aborigines, but also the Anglos and the immigrant-descended European communities.

The ``spagnola'' is Lola, a beautiful Spanish woman (Lola Marcelli), a tribute reverently conferred on her by Italian neighbors and in-laws, living in a 1960s Australian town.

Deserted by her husband for a blonde Australian woman, Lola is forced to look after her teenage daughter Lucia, (Alice Ansara) without the family savings he has waltzed off with.

This is a portrait of loneliness and sexual longing, mixed with hatred and desperation. All the darkly thwarted sensuality, expressed as it is often through food, puts you in mind a little of movies like ``Delicatessen'' and ``Jamon Jamon.''

Alex Dimitriades, who played the gay Greek-Australian guy in ``Head On,'' here plays Lola's lover Stefano, who is baffled by her seething, continuous anger. Written and produced by Anna Maria Monticelli, this is a diverting, original piece of work.

Scripted by actor-turned-writer Monticelli, ``La Spagnola'' draws upon its author's own experiences as a child of immigrant parents in 1960s Australia. Her film's Latin flavor, however, is as much literary and cinematic as personal.

The rumbustious humor, gleefully mixing sex, scatology and food, resembles Fellini at his most burlesque, while the hints of the surreal and the supernatural recall South American magic realism. Marceli's operatic performance as the self-dramatizing Lola suits these moods perfectly, but it is Ansara's quieter, more restrained performance that provides the film's truest moments.

Film Notes

La Spagnola

Directed by: Thomas Vinterberg

starring: Ulrich Thomsen (Christian), Henning Moritzen (Helge), Thomas Bo Larsen (Michael) and Paprika Steen (Helene)

Running time: 106 minutes

Showing: tomorrow, spot


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